February 7, 2011

A Somewhat Factual History of the Duke-UNC Rivalry

It is almost that time, folks. Time to break out the “Go to Hell Carolina” shirts, paint our faces blue, put on a speedo or something equally ridiculous, and cheer your face off until the Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels on Wednesday night. In full disclosure, I graduated from Duke before crossing over to the dark side and going to UNC for law school. That said, I bleed Duke blue. I whored myself out for in-state tuition and it brings me great shame. Nevertheless, both teams currently sit atop the ACC with only one conference loss, so this is a big game with even deeper implications than the usual bragging rights. The only disappointing factor is that it won’t be the first time we see Kyrie Irving face-off against Harrison Barnes. But before we talk about tomorrow, we should talk about yesterday.

Many moons ago, in the late 1800s, a young gentleman by the name of Washington Duke, the love child of Martha Washington and Archduke Ferdinand, came to America by caravan through Canada. His parents, rich from the trade of nutmeg and other spices, funded his mission to build an institution so grand that all others in nearby vicinity would bitch and moan at their newfound inadequacy for all of eternity. Mr. Duke settled in a wooded forest, far from the coast and pier prostitutes, before encountering a hostile tribe of natives, dressed from head-to-toe in blue war paint.

After intense negotiations between Mr. Duke and the Eno Indians, he gave them $100,000 in seashells, plus syphilis, for the purchase of Trinity College, with the specific intention that the college “opens its doors to women.” Mr. Duke was a horndog and became the toast of Durham, North Cackalacky. Years later, his son, a traveling trapeze artist by the name of James B. Duke, took his circus earnings and established The Duke Endowment, a ginormous treasure chest hidden in his family’s forest. It is rumored that the endowment is buried under what is now the Lemur Center, but that is more of an urban legend than fact. Let’s not go down a slippery slope here.

The plan was to distribute the treasure evenly amongst local hospitals, hookers, churches, orphanages, pirates, and schools. An addendum to the plan was also to construct the largest chapel in all the land, dwarfing surrounding structures with its massive size and architectural brilliance. This peeved the serfs of a nearby village named for its long-admired church structure worship house building. Such is life. The people of Durham, so indebted and in awe of the Duke family, organized massive rallies in the streets to celebrate; they raised banners, burned benches, and chanted songs in glee. Finally, William Preston Few, President of Trinity College, climbed down the rope ladder from his tower office and declared to the cheering masses that the school would hereby forever be known as the illustrious and glorious Duke University.

Unfortunately, there is not much known about the other player in this dramedy, the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. The school is quite old, flourishing in 1789, when it was newly built and still living up to expectations. After the Great Acid Fire of 1814, it has not had the resources or technology to keep proper records. Thus, much of what we know is based upon folklore; stories being passed down by word of toothless mouth from generation to generation. For instance, it has long been rumored that Jesus was poisoned from bacteria-laden water in their Old Well. That on their honeymoon, Klara and Alois Hitler made magic happen in a quaint room inside an old, expensive Inn. That the school could not afford its portion of the underground railroad between Durham and Chapel Hill, so families were forced to detour through Raleigh. That when Lee Harvey Oswald was seen leaving an infamous book conservatory, he may or may not have been wearing a baby blue hat with a weird goat creature on it. It has really been a scandalous existence, particularly since Duke flourished like a mutant sea monkey a few miles down the road.

After Bolivia invaded North Carolina in 1892, the generous humanitarians at Duke University invited the self-esteem-damaged Tar Heels over to their playground to boost kingdom morale. As the Tar Heels arrived, they selfishly tried to claim an instrument, known as the Victory Bell, as their own toy. Riots ensued. To settle the matter, it was decided that a game of basketball would be played. Before tip-off, the Duke leaders huddled conspicuously, pondering a mascot. They decided that they could not be racist, at least openly, like the Tar Heels. Instead, they focused on their fight against evil and all things unholy. Standing in the Bryan Center wagon lot, Albus Dumbledore yelled out that "When good triumphs, Satan cries tears of shame!" As such, the Sad Satans was discussed with excitement, but ultimately did not fit as a team name. Close, but no cigar.

Then, a deep unknown voice from beyond the clouds whispered like a songbird, as butterflies spelled out the words “Blue Devils” in the lush grass. A rivalry was born: racist evil-doers vs. victorious men of faithful good-will. Like a common thread throughout history, Duke beat UNC by the score of 19-18 on that fateful day in 1920. Since then, they have battled at least two times each year on the basketball court.

Although the Blue Devils would consistently invite the Tar Heels to their pre-game bake sales and prayer groups, the rivalry became more heated in later years. It sparked in the 1960s, when Duke star Art Heyman kicked the ass of UNC’s Larry Brown.

It grew even more intense in the 1980s after a mysterious rock star, known only by the letter K, emerged on the scene, playing to sold-out houses and mesmerizing the country.

Around this time, a personal animosity ensued between K and a local troll named Dean, the grandfather of Pocahontas’s baby daddy, John Smith. Using potions and the promise of Chick Fil-A, K and Dean lured stars like Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, and Shane Battier to the mild North Carolina outback. Epic battles and death matches followed, highlighted by national championships and lowlighted by the Matt Doherty years. Duke, currently ranked fifth in the nation, is the reigning national champion; UNC, however, took home the title in 2009. No one can remember back that far. The rivalry continues to rage on today. I am counting down until the next chapter – a rough two-hour tussle and mid-season climax on Wednesday night. May the points be plentiful, the crowd crazy, and the Devils victorious. Go to Hell, Carolina, Go to Hell.

1 comment:

  1. What a businessman, that Mr. Duke was - always remember to throw in the free syph with purchase!